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Fife Council’s £3m war chest to ease chronic house shortage

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Fife Council has set aside a £3m war chest to buy back vacant properties in a bid to bolster its housing stock and reduce homelessness across the region.

The local authority is a confident of achieving its target of buying 100 homes across Fife by March 2021 and has earmarked a further £3m to purchase 50 homes and make that a reality.

Plans to purchase two through to five bedroom properties that come onto the market was outlined to councillors at this week’s policy and co-ordination committee.

With the council suffering a chronic lack of housing to meet demands across Fife, the capital will be used to buy the properties at an average cost of £100,000.

Each purchase will receive a £40,000 subsidy from the Scottish Government with a maximum of £10,000 per property also available for modernisation.

In a report to councillors , John Mills, head of housing, said: “Following the easing of lockdown, and the early recovery period into Phase 3, the private housing market in Fife has been buoyant reflecting pent-up demand from owners to sell and buy.

“The council has been well-placed to take advantage of the market conditions to make good early progress to the council’s current commitment of 50 properties.

“There has been a focus on high homeless pressure areas such as Glenrothes and Dunfermline to move homeless families from temporary accommodation into permanent accommodation.

“Subject to approval, a wider geographical approach would be adopted to find suitable properties to create transfer-led opportunities. This would include Kirkcaldy, Levenmouth and Cowdenbeath.”

Mr Mills stressed that the purchases would be in addition to the Council’s policy for affordable new housing and that he was “very confident” that the council’s target of 1,500 new affordable homes would be achieved by 2020.

The move was welcomed by committee members including Councillor Altany Craik also warned that the Council be minded to seek best value and not accidently influence the market by inflating house prices.

Fellow councillor, Neil Crooks added: “Everyone is acutely aware of how many families are out there needing better accommodation and this policy will help meet that need.

“Housing need is massive across Fife, especially for three, four and five-bed properties so this can only be step in the right direction.”

 

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